SICILY SMALL GROUP TOUR
Experience the Sicilian lifestyle and tradition with a Sicily small group tour limited to 12/14 travelers only! Travel to Sicily with its idyllic climate, archaeology treasures, dramatic vistas and hearty cuisine that embodies all things Sicilian. On this small group tour journey, you’ll delve into one of the most fascinating and coveted regions in Italy.
Stare face to face with some of the world’s best Byzantine mosaics in the cathedral of Monreale. Marvel at the rich archaeological ruins of Siracusa dating to the 5th century BC. Explore the brilliant Roman floor mosaics in the Villa del Casale. Be enchanted by a fun cooking class in the house of a Sicilian lady
Sicily has some of Italy’s best beaches and on this tour we make sure that you’ll have time to enjoy them.The cuisine of Sicily varies from one province to the next as do the wines. Perhaps the most beautiful and ornate churches in the world, extraordinary seafood markets and incredible pistachio pastries, cassata gelati, home of the Mafia and amazing wineries alongside the best preserved Greek and Roman ruins in Europe. This is the contradiction and enigma of Sicily;”Italy’s best-kept secret”.
We have a real passion for touring in Sicily and look forward to sharing it with you !
- Guaranteed departure group travel: small, friendly group limited to 12/14 participants only!
- Guided tour of SPICY PALERMO and MONUMENTAL MONREALE
- TAORMINA – Mediterranean garden in the foothills of Mount Etna
- Guided tour of ORTIGIA ISLAND & NEAPOLIS archaeological area
- SIRACUSA OPEN MARKET with local tastings
- Visit unique VALLEY OF THE TEMPLES
- CRUISING ISOLA BELLA in TAORMINA (weather permitting)
- Included discovery of SEGESTA TEMPLE and stunning hill town of ERICE
- Visit the treasures of Sicilian Baroque: NOTO & RAGUSA
- Enjoy a visit to the romantic fishing village of CEFALU’
- Cherish an included visit to majestic GREEK THEATRE in TAORMINA
- Majestic MOUNT ETNA and WINE TASTING in local wine estate
- Lunch on the golden sandy beach of GIARDINI NAXOS
- HOME-HOSTED MEAL in a quaint Sicilian village
- Discover unknown Sicily -the hill town of SAVOCA
- Enjoy a lecture on the MAFIA in CORLEONE
- Experience the SALT PANS & MUSEUM OF THE SALT
- Authentic and personalized COOKING CLASS in an ANCIENT VILLA
- Ragusa Magical NEOCLASSICAL PALACE
- Included CABLE-WAY from ERICE to TRAPANI (weather permitting) and much more
- Visit popular UNESCO World heritage sites
- Exceptional native tour director to accompany you throughout your journey
- Main Sicilian archaeological sites entrances are included
- Transportation on tour, via private air-conditioned 21 seats motorcoach
- Local guides included in Palermo & Monreale, Corleone,Agrigento, Roman Villa, Siracusa,Taormina
- Hotel city tax and service charges at all properties and restaurants are included
- No hidden extras
- Our regional meals: All breakfasts, 4 dinners, 5 lunches (main meals include regional wine, mineral water, espresso coffee or tea only)
- Tour package includes private airport transfers from Palermo airport to your hotel and from Taormina to Catania airport at scheduled times.We suggest arriving a day or two before your tour begins to allow ample time to get over jet lag and be well-rested for the first few days of your tour.
- Activity level: Light/Moderate
- Terms & conditions/Single supplement: (View Here) and FAQ ( View Here)
- Trip Interruption and Cancellation insurance is not included. We highly recommend Travelex-Insurance.com to protect your vacation.
- Purchase of European Travel & Health Insurance is strongly recommended
DAY 1 : WELCOME TO SPICY PALERMO
Arrive in Palermo Airport and travel to the city center for the first two nights stay in our central “CENTRALE PALACE HOTEL “ or similar, close to the city’s architecturally treasures.Vibrant Palermo sprawls around a sweeping natural harbor, dominated by the limestone bulk of Monte Pellegrino. The city was the seat of the Arab Emirate in the 10th century and Middle Eastern influences can still be seen in the architecture of the churches and in the narrow streets and alleys of the old Arab quarter.In the evening enjoy a dinner in a local tavern where you will feel like one of the family.Eat like a local! Overnight in PALERMO
DAY 2: HIGHLIGHTS OF PALERMO & BIBLICAL MONREALE
After breakfast, meet your local tour guide in the hotel lobby for a walking tour of PALERMO, a crossroads of history, being the world’s most conquered city and a melting pot of civilizations. We have included today a visit to the striking and evocative PALATINE CHAPEL, dating back to the 12th century and some of the rooms of the ROYAL PALACE, the famous CAPO MARKET for a taste of real Sicilian life, and the evocative OPERA HOUSE. Afterwards, drive to the hills of Palermo to uncover the beauty of MONREALE, known for one of Sicily’s great sites – the stunning 12th century Norman cathedral literally wallpapered with golden mosaics that tell the stories of the bible. Dinner is on your own this evening.Overnight in PALERMO
DAY 3 : ANCIENT SEGESTA, SLEEPY ERICE & TRAPANI SALT PANS
Today, we’ll take a panoramic drive to SEGESTA, a unique archaeological site famous for its magnificent never completed 5th century Doric temple. We then continue travelling to the perfectly preserved treasure hill town of ERICE which combines medieval charm with astounding 360-degree views. It boasts a breathtaking setting high above the Tyrrhenian Sea and an imposing Castle with views over the Egadi Islands. After an included lunch in a local trattoria, we’ll descend by cable car (weather permitting) to the Trapani countryside, passing salt pans and windmills, learning about the history and process of salt harvesting at the MUSEUM OF THE SALT.Drive to the seaside town of CEFALU’ for the next two nights in a central family hotel.Overnight stay in CEFALU’‘
DAY 4 : ROMANTIC CEFALU’
In the morning meet your guide for a walking discovery of the charming fishing town of CEFALU‘. The squares, streets and churches of this medieval town are so postcard-pretty that it’s no wonder director Giuseppe Tornatore chose to set parts of his much-loved film Cinema Paradiso here. Most of Cefalu sites are found in the historic town center around Corso Ruggero and Piazza del Duomo, where you can visit the striking Cathedral, a mosaic-adorned outpost of Norman power and one of the jewels in Sicily’s Arab-Norman crown.Enjoy the evening on your own.Overnight in CEFALU’
DAY 5 : THE HISTORY OF THE MAFIA IN CORLEONE TO ANCIENT GREEKS IN AGRIGENTO
This morning’s visit takes driving south-west from Palermo to the town of CORLEONE, well-known as the birthplace of several Mafia bosses. Here you’ll learn about the MAFIA, during an informative discussion with a member of the community. Afterwards, arrive to the ancient city of AGRIGENTO, a UNESCO heritage site where a local expert will shed light on the VALLEY OF THE TEMPLS, an incredible concentration of Greek temples in varying states of ruin and reconstruction. This historic site was the heart of one of the most important cities in the ancient world and is the prime example of the magnificence of MAGNA GRECIA. Tonight you’ll be staying at the family hotel “BAGLIO CARUANA RELAIS“, owned by the charming Benina and Roberto, who will prepare a delicious dinner for you. Overnight stay in AGRIGENTO
DAY 6 : WINERY TOUR & ROMAN VILLA MOSAICS
Your transfer to SIRACUSA features a fascinating travel further out across rolling countryside to the remote vineyards of a BOUTIQUE WINERY for a wine tasting, elegant light lunch, and tour of the cellars.Afterward,drive to the ROMAN VILLA ,one of the 44 UNESCO World Heritage sites in Italy, built in the first quarter of the 4th century. It contains the richest, largest and most complex collection of Roman mosaics in the world. Your journey continues to the town of SIRACUSA for the next three nights at the 19th century boutique “ALGILA’ HOTEL” or similar. The evening is at leisure to make your own discoveries or simply wandering its colorful winding streets and alleys. Overnight stay in SIRACUSA
DAY 7 : ” TAPESTRY OF CULTURES” IN SIRACUSA & ITS MARKET
In the morning, you’ll explore this major outpost of the Greek empire with a local expert guide.The city boasts an incredible historical heritage, starting from the Archaeological Park, featuring the ancient Greek Theater now used for classical performances, the Latomie del Paradiso, the largest quarry in the ancient urban settlement and the Ear Of Dionysus, a subterranean artificial cave quarry used as a prison. You’ll see numerous elegant Baroque town houses, rebuilt after the earthquake that severely damaged the city in 1693, the elegant Piazza Duomo, dominated by the Cathedral’s baroque facade and the Temple of Athena from the 5th century BC lying behind it. After a small tasting at the lively market, you will then be free to wander around as you wish.Tonight, you can enjoy dinner on your own.Overnight in SIRACUSA
DAY 8 : BAROQUE TREASURES OF NOTO & RAGUSA
A full day’s journey today takes you south-east to witness the splendors of the Sicilian Baroque architecture, part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 1693 this corner of Sicily was devastated by an earthquake. Towns were rapidly rebuilt out of the glowing local limestone. Visit the stunning UNESCO town of NOTO, with its remarkable architectural integrity, honey-color buildings and famous domed Cathedral. Following this, drive to the ancient town of RAGUSA IBLA, famous for its labyrinth of crooked lanes and tiny squares. Here we’ll stop by an ancient PALAZZO for a visit followed by time on your own for sightseeing and lunch.Dinner is included this evening in a local trattoria. Overnight stay in SIRACUSA
DAY 9 : IN THE SHADOW OF CATANIA & MOUNT ETNA
This morning, depart for TAORMINA, one of the island’s most ancient destinations in Sicily. On the way you will discover the vibrant city of CATANIA, which owes its Baroque architecture in gloomy black lava to the last quake of 1693.During your free time, you might consider visiting the Cathedral of St. Agatha, where the reliquary of the patron saint is housed, the cathedral square, the Bellini theatre, the Villa Gardens, or the lively fish market.Afterwards, visit a boutique winery located on the slopes of the volcano to taste excellent wines accompanied by local appetizers.Continue to explore majestic MOUNT ETNA, the highest and largest volcano in Europe and one of the world’s most active. The peak changes in size over the years. It currently rises at 11,000 feet above sea level and literally towers above Sicily’s Ionian coast. Due to its scientific value supporting endemic flora and fauna, and its historical significance, Mount Etna was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Spend the last three nights at the central “HOTEL VILLA PARADISO” or similar, with breakfast included. Dinner is on your own this evening. Overnight stay in TAORMINA
DAY 10: UNKNOWN SAVOCA, CRUISING AROUND ISOLA BELLA & HOME HOSTED LUNCH
This morning tour takes you to visit the trapped-in-time picturesque village of SAVOCA, set on the foothills of the Peloritani Mountains to discover the real Sicily. Seems unchanged since medieval times, with its gated walls, stone cottages, and haunting churches. Here you will view the 18th century bar Vitelli, one of Coppola’s favorites’ spots and the church of St. Lucia. We then return to TAORMINA for a memorable PRIVATE BOAT TOUR around the Isola Bella in Mazzaro’ followed by lunch in the home of a Sicilian family.Rest of the day is at leisure in beautiful Taormina.Overnight in TAORMINA
DAY 11 : DOLCE FAR NIENTE IN TAORMINA & HANDS ON COOKING EXPERIENCE
Clamped to a rocky bluff planted with cypresses, pines, and lush subtropical vegetation, the exquisitely maintained medieval town of TAORMINA is Sicily’s glitziest and most dramatically situated resort. The morning is free to shop, explore and relax in this beautiful town. Maybe go for a dip in the azure ocean or simply wander through Taormina’s elegant gardens, posh cafes or explore the nearby mountain top village of MADONNA DELLA ROCCA with your tour director. In the late afternoon, celebrate your Sicilian adventure with a COOKING CLASS followed by the last dinner together in a splendid villa in the company of our good friend Luisa sharing travel memories and toasting new friends. Overnight stay in TAORMINA
DAY 12: ARRIVEDERCI SICILIA
Morning transfers to Catania airport and train station. You might extend your tour to AMALFI COAST
The BEST SICILY TOUR
Hello Aldo and Katrin,
Abigail Harman, my wife has recently emailed you telling you of our marvelous experiences on our recent ‘Secret Sicily’ tour. Basically, Abbe has stolen my thunder in that she has said pretty much what I was going to say. However, I have a few tributes to add.First and foremost, Ambra was amazing. As Abbe says: always cheerful and absolutely full of the history and folklore of Sicily. She was often on her phone, when we were with local guides or fully occupied with something else; clearly, she was phoning ahead to make sure we had a seamless experience with hotels, guides, and buses. Which we did.But anyone can look good when things are going well; it’s when things fall apart that one can tell who are the professionals and who the amateurs. We had an issue with a bus breaking down which Ambra handled superbly. No fuss—no panic—just a smooth transition along with her ever-smiling face and capable demeanour. Without doubt she is a class act. We were very lucky to get her. You are very lucky to employ her. Whatever you do… don’t let her go.Secondly, the tour was very comprehensive in its coverage. I’m a writer and a historian. I have read, among other books on Sicily, John Julius Norwich’s ‘History of Sicily’ so I was anxious to see all the great historical sites—from the Phoenicians through to the Bourbon Kings—that he mentions. I reckon we saw them all—certainly, most of them. I had wanted to book a cultural tour of Sicily with Martin Randall, a British tour group, but they were fully booked. I’m glad now that they were as I reckon your tour covered almost as much as theirs—and we had so much more fun.Of course, we were lucky with the group: firstly, because not only were there so few of us (nine) but also because everyone in the group was a kind and caring individual. No one was loud; no one was selfish; no one wanted to dominate and be top dog. We had twelve days of very warm and smooth relations. We were collegiate yet also allowed each other space. The people you get on a group is, of course, luck… but we felt sorry for the big groups or 30 or more. We were like a family.There were too many excellent experiences for me to list them all, but I do want to highlight our last evening when we had a cookery class and dinner at Villa Britannia. I’m not a cook, and I didn’t go to Sicily for the food but for the history, so I was the worst at the food preparation—which amused everyone immensely. What made the evening memorable was the fact the Villa Britannia is next to the house rented by the great English writer D H Lawrence when he was in Taormina. Louisa Vittorio, has recently inherited the house and she showed us around the place—including the room where D H Lawrence wrote some of his most famous poems. It’s still pretty much as it was almost 100 years ago. For me that was a wonderful, spine-chilling experience. I may be able to help Louisa in a small way by putting her in touch with D H Laurence appreciation societies.I could keep going with this email, but I think I’ve said all I need to say. For Abbe and me the holiday was the experience of a lifetime. We’ve had some excellent historically themed holidays—Iran, and twice in Turkey but I think Secret Italia might just be the best one we’ve ever had.
So… thank you. And please thank Ambra when you are next in touch. Send her love and hugs from Abbe and me.
A tour of Sicily FAVOLOSO
I’ve been in education my whole life- and yet my wife and I were both “wowed” by this wonderful trip.
First, the mix of activities- archaeological sites, churches and historical places was very good. However, the highlights of the tour focused on the real secrets of Sicily- the people. Our stay at the winery (by Argimento) was nothing short of amazing. The same for the visit to Gambino Winery (home of my grandfather), the dinner with Rita and Susana, and the farewell dinner with Lucia. Bravo!
But the tour would not have been the same without Ambra. She is so knowledgeable about the history and culture of Sicily that we take away a deep appreciation for beautiful Sicily. What’s more, she went out of her way to make all the passengers comfortable. She was a true friend while we were here. I think there were tears all around when we said goodbye last night.
Also, we were very glad to take this tour and hopefully we have an opportunity to take another one.
A Wonderful Treat
This trip exceeded my expectations. Each destination was a gem, with so much to discover and learn from our guides along the way. Ambra, our guide, was brilliant in every way, taking care of the myriad details involved with utter transparency, care and charm. There was nothing she wouldn’t do for our group members. Our driver, Mario, was always prompt, careful, and attentive to comfort and safety. Sicily was the real star of the show. What a trip to savor. Grazie Aldo and Karen and the SecretItalia team.
So glad to have booked this tour. Our guide, Giuse, was knowledgeable about all things Sicily and ensured our transportation, hotels, and restaurants were smooth and top notch. Aldo was a good communicator before as and, always prompt.
A Great Tour of Sicily
We traveled with the same group that included Joe and Judi, who left a separate evaluation of the Sicily tour. My wife and I agree with Joe and Judi’s comments. Giusi was a phenomenal tour guide – always on top of everything and very helpful with ideas and planning. The meals arranged for the group on the tour were outstanding, and the tour pace was just right. We were able to see and experience a lot of Sicily but not feel pressed. This was very well balanced between touring, experiencing local culture and having time to ourselves. Hotels were all top notch. It is very apparent that Aldo and Katrin have taken close personal interest in making these tours very well-planned and fulfilling. We would definitely be enthusiastic about doing another tour with Secret Italy – extremely good value for the cost.